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this hour on "the big picture," the obama political machine ratchets up and fires back in the debate over health care reform. >> our health care inflation is going up so rapidly that our federal budget simply can't sustain it. >> and now congressional leaders and progressives are blasting the greed of insurance
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companies. can this strategy work? >> the ceo of united health group, stephan helmsley, his salary, $3.2 million. plus, rethinking police pursuits. eight people killed this weekend, five of them children, after a car being chased by police slams into a pickup truck. when do you call it off? later, the right wing crazy talk. after rush limbaugh called democrats nazis -- >> that is insane. what he's aissayin -- saying is. >> sarah palin spoke of death squads. >> and the other things we thought you should know. >> allow me the right to be able to challenge the charges. >> turn into your new internet buddy, blago. all that and more this hour on msnbc. good afternoon, everyone. hey, david, i'm tamron hall live in new york. >> i'm david shuster live in
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washington. in "the big picture" president obama's push to control his message on health care reform. the president spoke with guadalajara, mexico today. he didn't specifically reference the heated town hall meetings that have erupted across the country, but he did say in time reform will pass. >> i suspect that once we get into the fall and people look at the legislation that's being proposed, that more sensible and reasoned arguments will emerge and we're going to get this passed. >> the white house has turned to the internet in an attempt to educate the public about health care reform. you're looking at something called reality check. the administration launched this website to try to dispel myths fleti floating around about some of the health care reform proposals. there have been claims they want a government-run plan. on this site the white house
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tries to hit back and say that's not true. there are a number of videos, and the white house is already facing some criticism from democrats who say putting up a website or writing an op-ed is not enough, that the president needs to take a much bigger, more aggressive posture to try to put this stuff down. >> you have advocates for health care reform who would desperately like to get on offense in this debate, and at the moment they are on defense over charges that obama care, as some have called it, is somewhere around socialism. but at some point this month, house speaker nancy pelosi said the democrats will put the focus on the greed of health insurance companies. she says the insurance companies oppose any public option because they fear consumers would find the public plan more attractive and would therefore lose profits if there is a public alternatives. the health insurance companies have been making record profits. a group supporting the democratic strategy of putting
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the focus on this has launched a new online campaign to go along with the film called "thick for profit." the idea is to shed light on what is said to be the lavish lifestyle of insurance industry ceos. >> the big winners in this broken health care system, let's look at who they are. the ceo of united health group, steven helmsley. his salary, $3.2 million. >> incredible gross profits of the private health insurers industry that is at the core of the problem. >> robert greenwall is a producer at brave new films who produced that documentary. thank you for joining us. >> my pleasure. >> is the open that you get some of that outrage you saw when we first heard some of the enormous bonuses wall street was receiving, are you looking for that pitchfork anger from bailout rage that so many people had? >> what we're looking to do is
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focus the debate and as you said before, number one, go on offense, but, number two, it's really important that people understand steven helmsley is making over $100,000 every single hour in 2009, and you know the way he's doing it? bide by denying you care. by preventing your family from having health insurance and paying out the clamenims. this is a direct relationship. he makes millions of dollars by not paying the health care -- >> we heard from the white house they were going to get people from all sides of this conversation in and you were going to have people from the health insurance, from prescription drugs all together to come up with a plan. were we sold a bag of coal with that? >> well, the white house does what it will do. what we need to do at brave new films and millions of people around the country is tell a story that they understand. tell the truth about
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profiteering. we don't profit from our police. we don't profit from your firemen. why should these men be living in mansions because they're taking dollars away from you and away from your families? it's obscene and it doesn't make sense, and people need to focus on that rather than on other issues. >> robert, we saw in clips of the film there are various people who tell their horrifying stories of being denied coverage. one person who wants their daughter to have essentially a brace for the kid's head to prevent the kid from possible death and she gets a letter from the insurance company saying that's a cosmetic thing. what's the most egregious thing you found? >> i wish i could say there was one, david, but as christopher, our producer said, he went home deeply despairing each day because of the number of stories, the number of people who reached me on facebook or twitter or on our website, sick for profit, over and over saying please help us and please let
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the world know that this is not an accident. this is not a function of confusion. it's not a function of bureaucracy. it's profiteering in the first possible way by preventing life-saving preventions to people. >> but, robert, the fact that you have to make this film and that there's already this perception out there that if what president obama passes, that somehow there will be the government standing between you and your doctor, a lot of people don't realize unless they see your film there's already an insurance administrator standing between you and what your doctor might suggest. the fact you have to have your film out there to counter this, isn't that a suggestion that the democrats have dropped the message in this debate from the beginning? they're trying to play catch-up essentially? >> well, i think it's really important when there's a truthful story to be on offense and to go, david, to what you identify. this is a core issue. the insurance companies are coming between you and your doctor. the insurance companies are, in
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fact, rationing the health care you can get, and it's up to all of us -- you know, there's that great line that i quote all the time, democracy is not a spectator sport. well, now is a time to get involved. we made sick for profit so everybody in this country who feels so strongly can do something, can pass it on, can talk to their neighbors, can go to their churches and say, did you know that our insurance company, the head guy has three mansions and each one of his bedrooms cost $87,000? that's a story that we need to tell and that puts us on the offense where we should be. >> incredible. this document i think will leave so many people speechless by the information. robert, thank you very much. we certainly appreciate it. thank you. you know, and, tamron, again the political aspect of this is important. i have had a number of republicans say to me if the democrats six months ago had gone after the health insurance company the same way that a lot of people went after the wall street ceos, this would be an
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entirely different debate and republicans would be in a bind. you now have some democrats who say as good as robert's film and as important a point as it is, it may be too late. >> you point out his film may be fantastic, but this information has been out there and it could have effectively been used as a part of this debate early on and that's not the case, and we see what's happened now. a lot of what the white house calls misin faformation out the. another big story for our audience. >> the heat is now on. >> it's not just the heat. it's the oppressive humidity that makes it worse, so here in new york the thermometer hit 90 degrees today for the first time since april. it's even hotter in other parts of the northeast, and weather channel meteorologist mike seidel is in new york central park. normally a place you can get a cool breeze because of all the trees, but when the humidity is smacking you, probably nowhere to hide. >> no. the only relief here is to find
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some shade, but a lot of people today have selected to get out to sleep meadow and lounge in the sun and just bake and shake out there. as we mentioned, first 90 since april. we've only had three 90 degree days. two in april. we average 15 a year in new york. hasn't hit 90 in boston yet. but philadelphia right now 94. washington's reagan, 96. the heat index in philadelphia right now is 102 degrees. so it is a hot day from d.c., baltimore, to richmond and raleigh. the good news is if you didn't want this and you've been pretty fortunate all summer is this is it. tomorrow a front comes in, showers and storms, and from new york to boston it's back into the 70s and 80s between tomorrow and the weekend. still kind of muggy, but this is i guess our one day of summer. although remember it can still hit 90 in new york city until mid-september. >> people were asking when is summer going to finally get here? we were getting so much rain and cool weather. now it's here. thank you, mike.
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>> for one day. for one day. >> one night only. thank you, mike. great talking to you. >> tamron, it's sticky down here in d.c. as well, but it's also hot for sarah palin. she is also under the spotlight. she's getting some heat, tamron, just like all the rest of us. she made a very bizarre and false statement about president obama's, quote, death panels. what was she thinking? or was she not thinking? why are some top republicans backing her up? what are they thinking? and why is sarah palin now changing her tune? >> interesting, they're backing her up, but she's changed her tune so where does that leave them? also, who is really winning the war in afghanistan? the pentagon is forced to explain a headline-making interview today from the u.s. general in charge of that war. you're the colon lady! diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating. that's me! can i tell you what a difference phillips' colon health has made?
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welcome back. here is a question that's on the minds of a lot of people today. is the taliban winning the war in afghanistan? that was the headline today in "the wall street journal." america's top commander in afghanistan, general stanley mcchrystal is quoted by "the wall street journal" saying the taliban have gained the upper hand and it's time for the u.s. to change its strategy. but a spokesman for the general tells the msnbc the general categorically denies the taliban is winning. he said he did say there is an aggressive enemy and they are launching complex attacks. president obama's national security adviser james jones said the u.s. forces in afghanistan is not in crisis but
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he did not rule out sending more troops. he said we need some time to find out if the revamped war plan is working. he spoke on "meet the press." >> you can't predict here where the tipping point is, just like we cannot really predict it in iraq. we will know whether this strategy is working within -- by the end of the next year. >> july was the bloodiest month of the afghan war for american forces. the pentagon says 1 u.s. troops were killed, at least 12 more americans have been killed so far this month. and to the bigger picture, what will it take for the u.s. to win the war in afghanistan. a u.s. troop surge there is now in its sixth week. more than 10,000 marines spread across the taliban heartland of helmand province in southern afghanistan. nbc's jim maceda has been embedded with those marines and reported to "nbc nightly news" last night they've been successful in driving out the taliban, but not without a heavy toll in provinces beyond the
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surge where the taliban has stepped up attacks. joining us is msnbc analyst and medal of honor recipient retired colonel jack jacobs. thanks for joining us. you have a spokesperson trying to clear up the general's remarks saying it's an aggressive enemy launching complex attacks. who do we make of the clarification and what these troops are facing now? >> well, the statement by general mcchrystal that things are not going all that well hit a very difficult chord and everybody feels like he's got to backtrack on it, but the fact of the matter is there is an insufficient number of troops, and general mcchrystal himself has said he's going to need more troops. insufficient number of troops to take care of this large area with lots of taliban. there are like 10,000 to 20,000 taliban. when we go into an area, insufficient number of troops in order to stay there and keep after them. taliban then moves to other areas and makes life difficult for our troops in other areas. we need more troops, and it's not enough just to say we're going to send 68,000, which is
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currently what's slated. i think that general mcchrystal will want at least 10,000 more. my guess is if you push him up against the wall and give him the real number he needs, he will probably say closer to 100,000. >> we know more troops means a more difficult situation for this president, but let me ask you, the headline said the taliban is winning the war in afghanistan. how do you answer that question? >> well, i think they are -- overall they're doing much better than they thought we would do, but that's because there are lots of taliban. there are lots of places for them to go. the terrain is extremely difficult, and we don't control all the terrain. in the areas where we flood, we send large numbers of troops into areas, stay there and control them, we're doing very well, indeed, and so are the afghans. but in those areas where there are no american troops, where there's no security, things are not very good at all, and that's why they need more troops there. >> jack, as far as afghanistan is concerned, is it possible to actually defeat the taliban militarily or is the more likely
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scenario at the end of all this some sort of political settlement where essentially the taliban agrees in some fashion? >> well, it's a very interesting question. you just defined the difference between a conventional war where you kill all the bad guys and declare victory on the one hand and an unconventional war where you not only have to defeat them militarily and turn over control of those areas to the local troops, but also you need to improve the lot of the people. you have to build roads. you need electrification. it's not just a military solution in an unconventional war like this. you have to have a complete change in the way in which people live their lives, and that means that troops have to stay there for a long time. it also means that we have to insinuate money there. we have to make sure that the people are not making money from opium anymore. that they actually grow crops. that there's a way to have actual commerce taking place inside regions and provinces and
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between provinces. that takes a lot of troops, a lot of money, and a lot of time. >> thank you very much for your great information. up next, feeling the heat in finland? >> that's right, tamron. we're going to talk about the sauna world championships and some other stories that make us say no way. what's our favorite part of honey bunches of oats? the sparkly flakes. the honey-baked bunches! the magic's in the mix. my favorite part? eating it. honey bunches of oats. taste the joy we put in every spoonful.
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tamron, there are a lot of things that could be considered news in this world. >> but, david, there are only a few story that is make us say -- >> no way! >> no way! first up the special olympics of southern california pulled together for the third annual plane pull. so the goal, if you're wondering, which team could pull a fed ex airbus 310 along a 14-foot section of the tarmac. prizes were given to fastest, slowest, and the most creative
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team. what? >> and there's also a prize to anybody who did not pull their hernia. >> i need some doan's. my back hurts. >> how hot is too hot? would you believe that 150 contestants from 20 countries took place in finland's sauna competition this weekend to see if they could beat the heat. after just two minutes, most contestants were gasping for air. of course, it's about 230 degrees in the sauna. the female winner from russia braved the meet for three minutes and two seconds. you don't just like twist an ankle as a possible injury. you pass out. yikes. >> okay. crossing the line? is that too much of a challenge for people? right? >> wow. this next one, daredevil with the indian military has apparently broken the record for standing on top of a ladder while riding a motor bike.
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i'm trying to see this video and read this. the previous record holder did it in eight hours and took several breaks. this guy did it for eight straight hours. they have video. it needs to be authenticated. >> who knew there was such a record? >> in india it's a big hon tore break so -- honor to break some of these records. several times an hour we're bringing you the big picture of the big stories of the day. now our big picture has a theme song to go with it thanks to jonathan mann. he's writing a song a day and we were lucky enough that he agreed to write one for us. listen. ♪ you'll say no way from 3:00 to 5:00 it's a no
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brainer ♪ ♪ the big picture, the big picture ♪ >> pretty good. it's not the theme to "dallas" or "falcon crest" but he wrote that in all of one day, and of his songs, he basically does them in a day. you can see whatever song you want at one of these days we'll have jonathan on to focus on why he focused onorly, but i think i know why. >> i love his intensity. i love the disco effect. very appropriate for us because we're -- >> you are a disco lady, aren't you? >> we're disco king and queen. john travolta and olivia newton. just ahead sarah palin and those strange comments about death panels. it's part of today's face-off. >> also, we're expecting that live news conference onned midair collision between that
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sightseeing helicopter and the small aircraft in new york. you're watching "the big picture" on msnbc. bicycle, what are we waiting for? the flowers are blooming. the air is sweet. and zyrtec® starts... relieving my allergies... 2 hours faster than claritin®. my worst symptoms feel better, indoors and outdoors. with zyrtec®, the fastest... 24-hour allergy medicine, i promise not to waias long to go for our ride. zyrtec® works fast, so i can love the air™. what do you say to a spin around the color wel? - to paint with primer already mixed in? - ♪ yeah yeah yeah... - test samples instead of can commitments? - ♪ whoo! - what do you say we dip into our wallets less... - ♪ are you feeling it? - ...and grab ahold of the latest tools out there... - ♪ oh! we can quit all that messing around with extra steps - and get busy turning our doing dials up a notch? - ♪ whoo! ♪ oh!
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i'm julia boorstin with your cnbc market wrap. stocks posting losses on wall street. the dow dropped 32 points. the s&p down over -- general motors and ebay are reinventing the car buying experience. starting tomorrow gm will begin selling new trucks and cars on the online auction site. it's limited to gm's california dealer and the program ends september 8th. target is recalling 43,000 circo booster seats. the buckle on the seats pop open unexpectedly causing children to
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fall out unexpectedly. welcome back, everyone. i'm tamron hall live in new york. >> i'm david shuster live in washington. tamron, we are waiting now for a news conference from the national transportation safety board from hoboken, new jersey. they will update the public on the investigation into that helicopter and aircraft that collided saturday in the hudson river killing nine people. as we pointed out earlier, within the past hour and a half, divers did find the plane wreckage at the particular spot they thought it might be. so they're essentially now trying to figure out how to bring that wreckage up. in the meantime, there were so many thousands of people that witnessed this on saturday, police are essentially overwhelmed with the 911 calls, but they have now started releasing some of the 911 tapes. let's listen. >> 911 operator. what is your emergency? >> i just saw an airplane hit a helicopter in the hudson river
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here. >> river road and fourth street? and you said -- >> an airplane just hit a helicopter. the helicopter went down into the water. the plane, i'm not sure what happened to it. i can't see it from my window. >> okay. stay on the phone while i connect you, okay? >> okay. >> there you can hear just the panic in the voice of just one person, tamron, who saw this, and literally hundreds and hundreds of phone calls that poured into police. >> david, we've got with us on the phone nbc's tom costello live at the location of the news conference we're waiting on. tom, obviously they're putting the pieces of this together, these investigations many times take such a long course to follow, but what do we know? where are they focusing? >> well, it's very premature to have any cause. however, what they are saying is it looks like government sources say it looks like the private plane came up and hit the
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helicopter from the rear. the question is whether the helicopter was in the plane's blind spot because the plane was making a turn and the wings are below the cockpit. it's entirely possible that the pilot simply didn't see -- you have to presume the pilot didn't see the helicopter. there was another helicopter pilot in the area who tried to warn the sightseeing chopper pilot that the plane was coming up from behind him, and he said he warned him, but three seconds later it was impact. we can tell you here at the scene as the coast guard and the ncpd are still out on the water, they believe they have found the wreckage of the small private plane. they suspended the search for a while today. it was a searing 100 degrees with the heat index and in addition to that they had very strong currents and they had this murky water to contend with, but they again have been using this sonar equipment, and they believe they've now isolated and found this plane in about 60 feet of watter in t wa
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middle of the hudson river. >> tom, how many close calls have they had with this sort of incident? it is a very congested air space there. >> well, it is congested. let's put this in peck speck tiff. on any given year you have 25,000 flight operations from the sightseeing choppers alone. another 23,000 or so from the wall street financial district. and you add all of that into the planes and that's only over the hudson river. so when you put that into context, you know, they do have close calls from time to time, but it is rare to have an actual midair collision. this is very rare, indeed. >> all right. nbc's tom costello. thanks for the reporting on that. again, we're going to watch for this news conference, the ntsb news con frepresence. we will brick it to you live when it gets under way. a massive magnitude 7.6 quake has struck in the indian ocean off of india's andamen
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island. it's triggered a tsunami watch. this coming from the u.s. geological survey. they're reporting a 7.6 magnitude earthquake in the indian ocean off india's andaman island. now they have a tsunami watch for india, myanmar, indonesia, thailand, and bangladesh. we'll keep you up to date for that new mexitsunami watch for reason. the death toll has climbed to eight from a tragedy this weekend where a police chase ended in a horrifying crash. a driver in a stolen car ran a stop sign and slammed into a pickup truck. four young children in the pickup died at the scene. a fifth child died later at the hospital. the kids ranged in age from 1 to 8. three adults in the stolen car were also killed. in happened in dinuba,
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california, near fresno. >> it's terrible. we're dealing with it day to day. a lot of prayer and a lot of support from other people have been helping us. >> all of this raises new questions about the dangers of police pursuits. joining us now is former new york police department inspector ron shindel. ron, based on what you know of what happened in los angeles, is there anything that lapd could have done differently to try to avoid something like this. >> this wasn't the lapd, this was the local police department. they were chasing a car that had been carjacked. this wasn't just a simple traffic violation. they might have known this car was carjacked, which is a robbery of a car, which is a serious felony out there. i think the police officer was right to try to investigate that by stopping the car. once they took off, and this is still under investigation, we don't know how long the pursuit went. we don't know exactly the terrain.
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we don't know exactly what the conditions were at the time of the pursuit. so those things have to be investigated before you can give a really true answer on that. >> is there a uniform set of guidelines for police departments across the country when it comes to police chases? >> no, absolutely not. each jurisdiction makes up their own guidelines. the basic guideline that they all follow though is, is the pursuit itself dangerous in the time and conditions of it? for example, a pursuit during a rainstorm is much more dangerous than a pursuit during dry weather conditions. a pursuit at 3:00 in the morning where there are less people on the road is a lot less dangerous than a pursuit at 3:00 in the afternoon. >> but should there be a uniform code -- we do this show every day. we've watched countless high-speed chases take place where you see traffic, this one car was just broadsided by -- you know what, i would love to get your answer, i'm being told the national transportation safety board is starting its news conference. let's take it.
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>> an update on our investigation. on behalf of the national transportation safety board, i would like to extend our condolences to all of those who lost loved ones in this accident. i'm accompanied today by mr. bob grets, who is our investigator in charge of the accident that occurred on saturday. i know you all are interested in the activities out on the water. we've been communicating with the local responders and the dive teams. they're continuing to work to try to recover the piper, the fixed wing aircraft that has not yet been recovered. they have continued to have positive hits from their side scanning sonar throughout the day. they are working to verify those targets to see if they can pull up the aircraft. they're going to continue to work on that. it continues to be very challenging conditions. the water in this area that they're looking is very deep, some 50 to 60 feet deep. the currents are very strong,
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and the visibility is extremely limited going down to one to two feet. so they continue to work very hard. we were very impressed with their work yesterday. they were able to recover the helicopter and a large portion of the helicopter has been examined. it's over on a secure pier, and we are documenting the damage to the aircraft and accounting for the different parts. there were some parts that were separated from both the helicopter and the fixed wing aircraft at the time of the collision. we will continue to look for all of the aircraft parts. we're going to have to see what we can find. there have been a lot of questions about the air space. as you all are aware, the accident occurred in very complex air space over new york city in between new york city
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and new jersey. there are three major air carrier airports and a variety of other general aviation facilities accommodating both fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft. there are also am fib lphibious aircraft that take off and land in the water here. most of the air space in this area has been designated class "b" air space by the faa. the fr operations are authorized below the class "b" air space surrounding this area in both the hudson river and the east river as we've discussed before.
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as you all know we were here for the cory lidle accident investigation in october of 2006. these exclusionary areas were first identified in 1971. the faa stated that the purpose of the hudson and east river exclusion area at that time was to provide for vfr aircraft operation over the rivers for transiting, landing, or departing aircraft. before the exclusion areas were defined, the floor of the class "b" air space extended down to the rivers. the floor of the class "b" air space it's required that anyone within that class "b" air space coordinate with air-traffic control, and they are positively controlled when they're in class "b" air space. seaplane and helicopter bases are currently located in or near these exclusion areas, and aircraft also use the exclusion
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area in the hudson river to transit underneath the class "b" air space that's in the vicinity, laguardia, newark, and the other airports. the piper pilot was talking to the teterboro tower after takeoff and then was electronically handed off to the newark tower. that is on the radar screen of the teterboro tower and on the radio screen of the newark tower. there is a symbol depicting a discrete target for this aircraft. one aircraft basically -- one air-traffic controller basically pitch that is aircraft to the other one electronically. the receiving air-traffic controller essentially catches it, acknowledges he has that and then the teterboro air-traffic controller goes back to the pilot and advises him to change
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frequencies over to newark tower. as i briefed yesterday, they had done the electronic hand-off when the air-traffic controller went back to the pilot and advised him to change frequencies. the newark air-traffic controller never had any communication from the pilot. the newark air-traffic controller went back to the teterboro air-traffic controller, asked him to put the aircraft on a heading and advised him to change frequencies. the teterboro controller attempted to hail the aircraft to do that and received no response. we are looking into all of the time lines for this communication, trying to corroborate that information with the time lines that we have on the radar hits that we showed you yesterday for both the piper as well as the liberty tour helicopter. also trying to communicate -- corroborate any communication that might have taken place over that common frequency. we're still trying to determine
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if anyone records that common frequency in the hudson river area. teterboro does not own or control the air space above 1,101 feet. that air space is managed by newark, so teterboro basically would coordinate is hand-off to newark and it's their responsibility to control that aircraft when they're in that class "b" air space. we have some information from the air-traffic control tapes. these are at the faa's air-traffic control tapes at teterboro, and these were some of the communications as far as clearance that the air-traffic controller and the pilot of the piper aircraft had. air-traffic control asked, are you going to request vfr down
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the river or southwestbound? the pilot responded the most direct, i'll take either one. they came back, let me know so i know who to coordinate with, and the pilot responded, okay, tell you what, i'll take down the river. so we're trying to determine exactly the communication sequence, the timing, and what the expectations were for handoff and control and what frequency they were understanding the pilot would be on both from teterboro tower and newark tower and information that might have been conveyed to the pilot. pilot it's are advised when they enter that ex kooticlusion areae hudson river to tune into a
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common advisory frequent ri. it's 123.05 megahertz. when they're operating in the hudson river exclusion area. this is advisory in nature only. it's not required. this information is published on the vfr chart, but this pilot was being handled by teterboro and was being handed off to newark, which would be on a different frequency. the floor of the class "b" air space is 1,101 and the ceiling of the exclusion area over the hudson river is 1,100. there was some discussion of midair collisions in past briefings with some questions. i wanted to advise you of some of the recommendations that. ntsb has issued in the past. we have issued 14 recommendations to the faa
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regarding collision avoidance or collision warning systems. 12 recommendations have been issued with respect to collision avoidance methods, techniques, or awareness programs such as see and avoid or scanning techniques. we have made recommendations on this issue almost going back to the creation of the agency. the safety board has been around for 40 boards. in '72 we asked the faa to alert the general aviation community of the increasing potential for midair collisions in the vicinity of airports. in 1993 we issued a recommendation to the faa to identify air space that warrants special protection due to the presence of commercial air tour operations and to create special operating rules for such air space to reduce the potential
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for midair collisions and other accidents. we have investigated other midair accidents recently. we investigated an accident in phoenix involving two electronic news gathering helicopters. they were involved in a midair collision while they were filming a police chase. the safety board made several recommendations stemming from that accident. one of them was to increase the visibility of the aircraft including such things as high visibility blade paint schemes for the blades of the helicopter or high visibility anti-collision lights on their aircraft. we also asked the faa to develop standards for helicopter cockpit electronic traffic advisory systems so that pilots could be
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alerted to the presence of other aircraft in their vicinity regardless of their position. we have long had collision avoidance technology available. we are actually in the second generation of that on our passenger-carrying aircraft. the challenge is there is commercial off the shelf technology available for helicopters with respect to collision avoidance, but helicopters often are operating in such close proximity to other traffic that they get a lot of nuisance alerts. there's a lot of basically alerts that go off so that the pilot -- it becomes essentially white noise. in this recommendation this year to the faa, we are asking them to develop better standards for helicopters so that they could have tighter margins for operation, and so if you're in a commercial aircraft and you get a warning three miles out, well, if you're a helicopter operating in a news gathering operation or in the hudson river, if you're
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getting alerts for any aircraft that are within three miles of you, that's not going to be especially help. we want to make sure that technology can serve the people using it. that was the purpose of that recommendation. we have made recommendations in the past for collision avoidance for large commercial carriers. we have seen an incredible elimination of midair collisions involving passenger carriers with the advent of traffic collision avoidance systems. these systems are required to be on board part 121 scheduled aircraft in passenger operations, larger aircraft and freight operations and tcas one provides warnings about traffic and tcas two, a second generation of this system, provides resolution advisories telling people what they need to
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do in order to avoid a collision. it will advise people traffic, traffic. it will tell one aircraft to climb. it will tell the other aircraft to descend, so they can deconflict their flight path. there were a number of questions at earlier briefings about some of the operations in this air space in the exclusion zone, and so we asked the faa to take a look at some of the numbers of aircraft that might be operating in this exclusion zone for us. they did a look back, and according to faa, they look back over the eight days prior to the accident, they looked at the -- at a three-mile radius around the accident site at aircraft that were at or below 1,100 feet, and over the eight days they came up with an average of 225 aircraft operating vfr in
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this exclusion zone. >> is that at any one time? >> this is per day. 225 aircraft -- approximately 225 aircraft operating in the exclusion zone -- let's just say three mile radius around the accident site and that's an average, an eight-day average, 225 aircraft per day. >> reporter: ni way any way to t down per hour? >> i'll take questions at the end. according to the faa, there are at least two dozen on-demand part 135 rotor craft or helicopter operators in the new york/new jersey area. according to the chief pilot at liberty tours, there are approximately 40 other sightseeing operations in the area, and liberty tours has a letter of agreement from the faa
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to conduct approximately 29,000 tour operations per year. there were some questions about previous incidents and accidents involving liberty tours. as i mentioned yesterday, liberty tours has been in business since 1986. since 1995 they have had eight accidents and one incident. the safety board has investigated those accidents and incidents. the probable cause for most of those events is on our web page. there are two events that are still under investigation by the faa -- by the ntsb. one of those was the '07 incident into the hudson river. it was considered a part 91 sightseeing flight. there was one pilot and seven passengers aboard and there were no injuries. there was an in-flight separation of a rotor blade and it's being examined in our materials lab. we expect that report to be
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completed within the next 60 days. the second accident that remains in an open status where we have not yet determined probable cause occurred in september of 2008. it was a nonfatal accident that was a landing accident. it was an instructional flight operated under part 91, and we are again conducting a met lurgecle exam of a part from that aircraft. we expect the report to be completed within the next 60 days. >> so there you hear the ntsb spokesperson talking now about the case that is essentially where they have not come to a final conclusion, and this, of course, gives you some context in the idea that it does take a long time sometimes for them to figure out exactly what causes this kind of accident, especially in the case where you have a private plane. there's no such thing as a black box and so much of the evidence will come from perhaps whatever pieces of both aircraft they can find as well as witnesses,
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air-traffic controllers, and what the communication was like. but this certainly sounds like it's going to be a long investigation. >> it's complicated who oversees the air space. you have two different airports once the plane hits a several level. when you think about the number, david, of flights. he said something like 29,000. we're also following a breaking news story. as you well know, that massive magnitude 7.7 earthquake that struck in the indian ocean. there's been a tsunami watch for india, myanmar, indonesia, thailand, and bangladesh. we're keeping an eye on that breaking news story. an earthquake in the indian story. 7.6, and as a result now you've got a tsunami warning or tsunami watch in effect for those countries. we'll keep you posted on that as well. but as we almost wrap up this hour for us, we're going to keep going with the next read on
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politics. those are the stories you'll be talking about. for the last several days america has seen images of the heating exchanges at the town halls over health care. tomorrow president obama has his own town hall-style health care forum and will there be fireworks is the big question out there, david. >> that's right. let's talk with mark murray, nbc news deputy political director with our next read. mark, what do you got? >> hey, david and tamron. that's right, president obama holds a health care town hall in po portsmith, new hampshire tomorrow. there are bounds to be protests outside. chuck todd got a hand on an invitation from a conservative group that will be protesting outside the venue for tomorrow's town hall. finally, secretary of state hillary clinton remayins in africa. >> mark, we were talking about who is on offense, who is on defense. most democrats acknowledge that being on defense is not the
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position you want to be in. you don't want to be ha ifg to try to explain what's not in your health care reform. you want to attack and say, hey, as robert greenwald, we talked to him, he said the insurance company, they're out tor greed. they want their record profits protected. that's what the democrats ought to be focusing on. fair to say until the democrats can move the discussion in that way they're in some trouble on this? >> i think they were in trouble when they weren't able to get bills to be able to point to in these town halls where democratic members of congress, maybe even republicans who are open to actually supporting any type of health care reform, could point to say legislation does "x," "y," and "z." they really can't do that. there obviously have been some bills that have passed some committees in the house and one committee in the senate, but you don't have legislation that has passed those full chambers, and that's been a problem. that said, tomorrow will be very interesting because if president obama does receive some very tough questions or ends up getting some protests, that's right in his wheel house acly

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MSNBC August 10, 2009 4:00pm-5:00pm EDT

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